Cheapest Pay As You Go Bundles: The Best Prepaid Plans For Your Mobile

February 15th, 2017

With a Pay As You Go bundle, you can convert your credit into a one-month allowance of calls, texts and mobile internet. We compare the UK’s best value Pay As You Go bundles.

Pay As You Go SmartphonesIn the UK, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Pay As You Go deals. With more than 60 Pay As You Go bundles across 12 different mobile networks, the strongest deals can now rival those found on a Pay Monthly contract.

To get the best value from your Pay As You Go tariff, you’ll normally need to convert your credit into a 30-day bundle. This is a little bit like buying your airtime in bulk. Rather than paying for usage on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you just buy a 30-day bundle to cover all of your usage. If you’re a regular mobile user, this should save you money compared to traditional Pay As You Go. You’ll also keep full control over how much you spend, with no need to sign any contracts or to undergo a credit check.

In the UK, there’s a wide range of Pay As You Go bundles available to choose from. In this article, we’ll compare the best value Pay As You Go bundles currently available to buy.

PAYG Bundles: How Do They Work?

When choosing a Pay As You Go tariff, it’s important to understand the two methods of paying for your airtime:

Pay As You Go Bundles Traditional Pay As You Go
Best for regular mobile users and smartphone users. Best for light users who don’t have a smartphone.
Get a 30-day bundle with calls, texts & data included. Pay a fixed amount which is known in advance. Pay on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis. Rates are typically higher compared to a bundle.
Unused allowances expire after 30 days, after which you’ll need to buy another bundle. Your credit doesn’t expire providing you keep the SIM card active.
No credit check & no contracts to sign. No credit check & no contracts to sign.

In the article below, we’ll be comparing the best value Pay As You Go bundles. If you’re a light user wanting traditional Pay As You Go, you should instead see our comparison of classic Pay As You Go deals.

A Brief Overview Of PAYG Bundles

Top Up LogoIn the UK, Pay As You Go bundles have been available since 2010. Having originally launched in response to growing smartphone adoption, bundles combine some of the benefits of Pay Monthly (e.g. low costs and certainty over how much you’ll spend each month) with the benefits of traditional Pay As You Go (e.g. lots of flexibility, no credit checks and no contracts).

With a bundle, the main difference is you’ll now be using your Pay As You Go credit to buy airtime in bulk. Instead of paying for usage on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis, you instead buy a 30-day bundle to cover all of your usage. The advantage is you’ll get much lower rates and certainty over how much you’ll spend. For instance, a £10 top-up could buy you a 30-day bundle with 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet. On traditional Pay As You Go, this would only get you up to 250 minutes and 250MB of internet.

Traditional Pay As You Go tariffs are still available on the market and can be a better option for light users who don’t have a smartphone. On traditional Pay As You Go, your credit won’t expire providing your SIM card remains active (this normally means using your phone at least once every 6 months).

Recommended Bundles

At present, our recommended bundle costs £10/month on Pay As You Go from ASDA Mobile:

ASDA Mobile

ASDA Mobile £10 BundleASDA Mobile is our recommended network for anyone wanting an all-round good value Pay As You Go bundle.

For just £10/month, you’ll get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet. This is four times as many minutes and three times more data to use each month compared to EE’s £10 Everything Pack.

ASDA Mobile has 99% population coverage (they have 2G and 3G coverage from the EE network). It’s a straightforward process to keep your current number and to transfer it over to ASDA Mobile.

Order ASDA Mobile SIM card (Free) »

If you’re looking for a 4G-ready bundle with coverage from O2, we recommend giffgaff’s goodybag bundles:


Giffgaff Goodybag Icons - Newgiffgaff is another highly popular network for their Pay As You Go bundles. They offer 3G and 4G coverage from the O2 network.

The most popular bundle on giffgaff is their £10/month goodybag. This gives you 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G internet. This is twice as much data and twice as many minutes as you’d get on O2 for the same monthly price.

For heavy users, giffgaff has a competitive range of bundles with more data each month (e.g. 3GB of data for £12/month and 5GB of data for £15/month). There’s also a £20 goodybag with Always On data (unlimited downloads with the first 6GB at full 4G speeds).

Order giffgaff SIM card (Free) »

Through the rest of this article, we’ll be comparing the Pay As You Go bundles available on each UK network.

In the tables below, you can hover your mouse over the mobile network’s logo to find out which network coverage provider they’re using (i.e. whether they’re using coverage from EE, O2, Three or Vodafone). You can also place your mouse over the data allowance for further information about download speeds and tethering.

Less than £10/month

5 Pound Note

In the UK, the cheapest Pay As You Go bundles start from less than £5/month.

There are currently seven mobile networks offering a Pay As You Go bundle for less than £10 per month. Most of them are low-cost virtual network operators that piggyback on one of the main network coverage providers:

The cheapest Pay As You Go bundles start from about £3 to £5 per month. For this, you’ll typically get in the region of 100 minutes and 100MB of data (100MB = 0.1GB):

iD Mobile125500100MB£5.00
ASDA Mobile1002,000100MB£5.00
Tesco Mobile100100100MB£5.00
ASDA Mobile2002,000-£5.00

From £7/month, you can get 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of internet (500MB = 0.5GB):

ASDA Mobile300Unlimited500MB£7.00
Tesco Mobile250500250MB£7.50
Lebara Mobile150200500MB£7.95

From £10/month

10 Pound Note

A range of deals are available for £10/month.

At the £10/month price point, there are currently 12 mobile networks offering a Pay As You Go bundle.

Our recommended bundle can be found on ASDA Mobile. For just £10/month, you’ll get 600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1.5GB of internet. ASDA Mobile gives you 2G and 3G coverage from the EE network (you can check your coverage here).

For a 4G-ready alternative, we currently recommend giffgaff’s £10/month goodybag. It comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of 4G internet. As an alternative, giffgaff also has a £12 goodybag with 3GB of data.

The following table compares Pay As You Go bundles currently available from £10/month:

ASDA Mobile600Unlimited1.5GB£10.00
Lebara Mobile5002001GB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0001GB£10.00
iD Mobile500Unlimited1GB£10.00
Co-operative Mobile2503,000500MB£10.00
Tesco Mobile5005,0002GB£12.50

From £15/month

15 Pound Notes

giffgaff has the best value deal at £15/month.

For £15 per month, we’d recommend giffgaff’s £15 goodybag bundle. You’ll get 1,000 minutes, unlimited texts and 5GB of internet. You’ll get high-speed 4G coverage from the O2 network.

You can also choose 4G-ready bundles from EE, Lycamobile, iD Mobile, O2 and Vodafone. There are also 3G-only bundles from ASDA Mobile, the Co-Operative Mobile and Lebara Mobile.

If you’re a heavy data user, giffgaff’s £18 goodybag can be a good choice with 2000 minutes, unlimited texts and 6GB of 4G internet.

Lebara MobileUnlimited2004GB£15.00
iD Mobile1,000Unlimited4GB£15.00
ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited3GB£15.00
Tesco Mobile1,0005,0003GB£15.00
Co-operative Mobile5003,0001GB£15.00

From £20/month

20 Pound Note

giffgaff has always-on data for £20/month.

For £20 per month, giffgaff offers an Always On goodybag. This gives you unlimited downloads with the first 6GB per month at full 4G speeds. You’ll also get unlimited calling and unlimited texting included in the goodybag.

As an alternative, Three has a £20 bundle with 12GB of 4G internet (but with only 300 minutes to use each month). A benefit of choosing the bundle from Three is you’ll get access to the Feel At Home offer (this allows you to use your phone in 42 countries at no extra charge).

ASDA MobileUnlimitedUnlimited6GB£20.00
Lebara MobileUnlimited2006GB£20.00
Tesco Mobile2,0005,0004GB£20.00
Co-operative Mobile1,0003,0002GB£20.00

£25/month and more

The following Pay As You Go bundles are available for £25/month or more:

Lebara MobileUnlimited20010GB£25.00

The price of bundles and their inclusive allowances can sometimes change without prior warning. If you’ve noticed a mistake in the tables above, please contact us by leaving a comment below. You can also send me an e-mail and I’ll endeavour to update the information as quickly as possible.

Sources for tariff information:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Last updated on 28th February 2017.

More Information

For more information on the best Pay As You Go deals, see our guide to free Pay As You Go SIM card offers. You may also find it useful to see our guide on mobile coverage and on transferring your phone number from one mobile network to another.

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About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 74 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.


    Hi Ken,
    I have no 2G service from O2 at TA9 ***, having to walk 200 yards down the road to receive a signal to send a text. Ive requested a PAC to change service provider. Giffgaff is showing good coverage but I know they operate through O2. Is there a provider that I can use that actually will provide a signal for voice calls and text in my house?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Christine,
      Thanks for your comment (I’ve removed the last part of your postcode to protect your privacy).
      As you mentioned in your comment, giffgaff uses O2 as their network coverage provider. For this reason, changing from O2 to giffgaff will not solve your coverage problems.
      For more information about the different network coverage providers, I recommend having a look at my in-depth article here. There’s a section on how you can assess mobile phone coverage on different mobile networks, with it possibly being worthwhile to order a bunch of free Pay As You Go SIM cards from each mobile network to test the coverage in your area.
      Hope this helps,

  2. Peter Creswell said:

    I have only just found your site and have not read all the information. I spend about eight months of the year abroad and we are fed up with paying £50/month for BT broadband, telephone, line rental and unlimited calls. We are thinking of maybe switching to pay as you go mobiles but have a few concerns.
    Cancellation due to non-use, linking to laptops and iPads, using an air printer which currently runs off the wifi. One of us has an iPhone and one does not have a smart phone. Can you recommend how we should proceed with this? Normally our four months in the U.K. is split into two periods of about two months each with occasional visits in between for a few days.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your comment. It sounds like Pay As You Go could certainly be suitable for your usage. With regards to credit expiry and automatic cancellation due to non-use, I’ve got an in-depth article here discussing it in more detail (the short answer is you’ll probably be fine as long as you use your SIM card once every 6 months).
      With regards to cancelling your home broadband, obviously there are lots of things to consider (e.g. perhaps if you wanted to watch iPlayer or other video-on-demand services when you’re back in the UK). However, you might be able to get away with Pay As You Go mobile broadband (it really depends on how much data you’d use each month).
      Finally, with regards to your printer that runs off the wi-fi, this probably would continue to work even if you cancelled the broadband service. You’ll still be able to use the wi-fi network for your devices to talk to each other (it’s just they won’t have access to anything on the internet).
      Hope this helps,

  3. John said:

    Hi Ken

    First time visitor to your website – looks awesome!

    I live in Melbourne, Australia these days but I’m able to get back to the UK 2-3 times a year, during which time I pop my Vodafone PAYG SIM back into my iPhone 4.

    Vodafone have been abysmal (even by their standards!) and I ended up spending something like 60GBP on top ups over a 7-week period plus life-draining phone conversations/inaccurate texts/premature credit expirey… I also have to give them a token 10GBP top up every couple of months in order to keep the number I have had for 20 years (Originally Orange then O2 and Vodafone.

    I do like the look of the ASDA deal and have made a note of your advice about obtaining a PAC code, which I have done previously but not for a while.

    My questions are:

    1) Will I have to wait until I’m next in the UK before I can change provider (almost certainly to ASDA?)

    2) How much inactivity would ASDA allow before running the risk of losing my number?

    3) (I’m no doubt being thick here but…) Which SIM would I ask for on the ASDA website – Pay As You Go or Free SIM card?

    Many thanks



    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment! I’ll answer your three questions in order:
      1) Yes, you’ll need to wait until you’re in the UK before you’re able to change over to ASDA Mobile. This is because the ASDA Mobile SIM card will only be sent to UK addresses. It should also be activated whilst you’re in the UK. In theory, you can probably side-step this by asking a friend or family member to do it for you, but for simplicity, I’d probably wait until you’re back!
      2) On ASDA Mobile, your phone number will only be deleted after 360 days of inactivity on the account. Your credit, however, will be lost after 270 days of inactivity. For more information, please see my guide on Pay As You Go inactivity periods.
      3) You can order the SIM card you’re looking for via this link.
      Hope this helps!

      1. John replied:

        Many thanks indeed, Ken! That’s really helpful 🙂
        Kind regards and best wishes

    2. Seani replied:

      John get a Tello payg sim – you can use the Tello app for Wifi Calling anywhere in the world and never run up a roaming bill as you can only roam outside the UK using the app, runs on 3UK. You can also jump between payg and bundles as needed.

  4. John said:


    I’m coming to Luton airport in 2 weeks. Does anybody know if in this particular airport I can find a place where I can buy a prepaid SIM card?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi John,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure specifically about places in Luton Airport but I guess there probably should be as this is a fairly common purchase at airport arrival halls. If possible, however, I would probably recommend against buying a SIM card at the airport. You’ll probably find it overpriced compared to other locations – you could get the same SIM card in town for a lot less (often free or just £1 from the local phone shop or supermarket). Alternatively, you can order a free SIM card online and have it sent to your hotel.
      Hope this helps,

  5. MJ said:

    Thanks for this!

    I’ll be in UK for 2 weeks and I plan on bringing just a mobile phone and purchase a sim with data. Is my understanding correct that I can purchase the pay as you go package (this is the prepaid one, no monthly payment)? What’s the best deal to buy for a 2 week heavy data user stay?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi MJ,
      That’s right – you can easily pick up a Pay As You Go SIM card whilst you’re in the UK. For a two-week trip, I’d probably suggest one of the bundles here (you’ll get about 1GB of data for £10/month). If you’re going to use more than that, you could also look at the £15 bundles offering 4GB of data.
      You can buy a Pay As You Go SIM card from most newsagents, supermarkets and phone shops. If you’re buying in store, you’ll probably need to stick to one of the major mobile networks (so either EE, O2, Three or Vodafone). If you want a bit of choice, you’ll need to order a free SIM card online (the SIM card can only be dispatched to a UK address, however).
      Hope this helps,

  6. whatsup123 said:

    would you advice using BT mobile because they are very generous in terms of internet?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi there,
      Yes – I think BT Mobile is a good network, particularly so if you’re a BT Broadband customer. You can read more about it here on my review. One thing to note however is that they don’t offer a Pay As You Go deal (BT Mobile is only available on a Pay Monthly contract).

  7. NSKing said:

    Thank you for all this useful information!

    We are living in the UK & are currently on Three as we often go to Switzerland Greece Italy etc & can use the phone services there for no extra cost. Our main use is data, although we use a little call time & text the bulk is internet use, iMessage & facetime-video or audio. We are on pay as you go as we own our handsets & are wary of enormous suprise bills! Three has been working well for us until yesterday when we discovered we could no longer use tethering. (When we phoned Three they explained we had had tethering by accident, but it was not available for pay as you go customers). We use tethering for a child to play Pokemon Go(!) so are reluctant to get a third sim just for this but happy to do it if it makes sense.
    Do you have any pearls of wisdome? We would be happy on a sim only contract if we could gaurentee no extra unexpected costs, but are really looking for cheap data on pay as you go.

    Thank you!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi NSKing,
      Thanks for your comment. You’re right in saying that tethering isn’t allowed on Three Pay As You Go – there’s more information here on which mobile networks & tariffs allow it. I think there are several options:
      1. You could switch to another Pay As You Go network that does allow tethering. I’d recommend ASDA Mobile as a great alternative (coverage comes from EE & you’re able to tether).
      2. You could switch to one of Three’s Pay Monthly SIM cards. You’ll need an Advanced plan if you want Feel At Home & the ability to tether. You can use their spend control feature which should help to avoid unexpected bills. I’d also recommend using the settings on your phone to place a limit on your data usage, alternatively you could get a tariff with all-you-can-eat data.
      Hope this helps,

  8. mark said:

    Looking for the best sim card for a 2 month trip. one month England and the other month france/holland/germany/Chez republic. Pre pay would be simplist. any suggestions?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Mark,
      You can use the above information for choosing a SIM card in the UK. It may also be useful to read my guide on using a smartphone in Europe – it covers the cost of roaming on a UK SIM card & the special deals that are currently available.

  9. Paul Smith said:

    Thanks for the useful articles.
    My wife and I use Vodafone at present.. but find them frustrating , as with many networks they have too many rules and exceptions etc. I use payg and only use about £10 every 3 or 4 months, my wife uses about £10 every 6 to 8 weeks.

    Looking to change to cheapest, simple / easy network with low cost per month and if possible cheap charges in New Zealand and Turkey ( where we often go for a month or two each year). What do you suggest?

    Many thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, there isn’t a simple answer to the question! The article above discusses the best deal for regular mobile users: the cheapest deals starting at about £5/month.
      Are you happy to consider a bundle? Based on your typical spend at the moment, I’m guessing you’re probably on traditional Pay As You Go?
      An obvious and quick saving is signing up with a low-cost network like ASDA Mobile (they charge 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB). Coverage is from EE, there’s a good inactivity policy and no restrictions on tethering like Vodafone PAYG.
      If we start looking at deals that provide cheap roaming in New Zealand and Turkey, this hugely limits the number of deals available. Three gives you cheap roaming in New Zealand but you’ll need to buy an All-in-One bundle (minimum £10/month). For Turkey, I believe O2 has a £3.99/day O2 Travel deal but this isn’t exactly cheap if you’re spending an entire month there!

  10. Lawrence said:

    Hi Ken,

    I will stay in UK for a few months as an exchange student in the coming Sept this year, will the “pay as you go” plan you mentioned also be applicable to me.

    Do I need a UK credit card? Do I need to remove the content lock as mentioned in some other websites?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Lawrence,
      Yes – Pay As You Go will be perfect your usage as there’s no need for a credit check for the UK. There’s also no need to have a UK credit card – you can top up with cash, voucher, etc. For more information on topping up your phone, please see my in-depth article on this article.
      By default, all UK mobile networks are legally obliged to block adult content on their service. You can remove these restrictions by verifying your age (e.g. by providing them with a document to prove you’re over 18).
      Hope this helps,

      1. Lawrence replied:

        Hi Ken,

        Thank you so much for your prompt response.


  11. Meryl said:

    Hi Ken,
    My query is this, I have a basic mobile, nothing fancy, no internet, very simple use.
    I use it in the UK & Europe. I currently use a £10 bundle each month with O2.
    Which provider would you suggest to be the most economical ?
    Thanks for your marvellous website, it’s invaluable !

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Meryl,
      Thanks for your comment. Many of the bundles mentioned above could potentially work for your usage – do you know how many minutes & texts you typically use each month? I’d possibly suggest getting ASDA Mobile’s £5 Talk and Text pack. This will give you 200 minutes and 2000 texts for £5/month (you can order a free ASDA Mobile SIM card here). For roaming inside the EU, you’ll pay 8p/minute and 4p/text.
      For more information, you could also see my article on roaming in the Europe (there are some alternative deals there that could work out better value if you spend a lot of time in Europe).

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Shaun,
      Thanks for sharing this information – it’s super useful! I’ll try to update this article over the coming weeks as TPO moves over to their new 4G service.

  12. Steven said:

    Hi Ken,

    After reviewing your excellent breakdown of different bundles here, I decided to get an EE SIM with the intention of purchasing the £15 Data Pack once it arrived. I ordered their free SIM (and selected the £1 Talk&Text 7-day pack with plans to change it later). However when the SIM arrived and I tried to change my pack I found that the £15 Data Pack wasn’t available for purchase. Instead, the only Data pack offered on the ‘MyEE’ online page was their most basic £1, 7-day Data Pack.

    After doing some reading on the EE community support forums, it appears some people are suggesting the only way to access the £15 Data Pack with 250 mins, Unlimited texts and 4GB of data over 30-days is to purchase a pre-loaded SIM with that Pack selected. Do you think this might be the case?

    I can’t quite wrap my head around why a specific, pre-loaded SIM would be necessary in order to access that particular pay as you go pack. If this is indeed the case then will I need to reorder a second EE SIM and transfer my number to that SIM all just to get access to this specific £15 Data Pack?

    Many thanks,

    1. Steven replied:

      Update: I phoned EE customer services to see if they could help me out and clarify the situation.

      They confirmed that the £15 Data Pack that offers 250 minutes, unlimited texts and 4GB of data over 30 days is only available if you purchase that specific pack when ordering the SIM card.

      So if anyone is planning, as I was, to order a free SIM with the intention of later upgrading their pack to the £15 Data Pack then be aware that this isn’t a possibility. There is no option to upgrade to that specific pack; you need to know in advance of ordering your SIM that you want it.

      The representative I spoke to informed me that it wasn’t possible to swap me to that pack on my current EE SIM and neither was it possible for me to keep my current number and jump to the £15 Data Pack SIM. At this point if I want to get the £15 Data Pack AND keep my current number I would need to port my number to a completely different service provider and then port it back to the £15 Data Pack SIM with EE.

      As far as I can see, there is nothing on the EE website which makes it clear that the 4GB £15 Data Pack is exclusive in that it needs to be selected (and paid for) in advance i.e you cannot upgrade to it. It’s a shame really because if I had known this I would have ordered the correct SIM in the first place. At the moment my plan is to pick up a GiffGaff SIM card because they’re offering a slightly better deal for the same price.

    2. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Steven,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, this is the first I’ve heard of about restrictions on buying the £15 Data Pack. As you say, it doesn’t seem particularly logical for them to do this (I wonder if they might be trying to discourage existing Everything Pack customers to move to a cheaper Data Pack). I suspect a phone call to EE Customer Services and an escalation to the manager will do the job as there’s clearly no technical reason why they can’t move you over. You can also order a new SIM card from EE, but this will come with the added hassle of you having to move your number over.

  13. Ferdinand said:

    Dear Ken,

    really great site and you have put a lot of effort into it to maintain it, with a wide range of topics.

    I am currently looking at using a Pay As You Go Bundle with Giff Gaff. From reading your articles and responses on overseas calling and SMS to New Zealand, it looks like Giffgaff is the best option both for calls to NZ, and a very good option after ASDA for PAYG Bundles.

    However, from reading your article on calling overseas, I noted the overseas rates apply to Pay as You go customers, not necessarily Pay as You Go Bundle customers. I assume it would be hard for the system to calculate overseas calls on on PAYG Bundles which provide a limit in minutes in a Bundle, whereas overseas calls are charged in pence/ minute which might be different from the standard on which the Bundle limit is calculated.

    Just wanted to confirm my logic is correct here and if you have any other suggestions. I will need to make both calls and send SMS to NZ, in the UK and also to continental Europe.

    Happy Easter


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ferdinand,
      Happy Easter and thanks for your comment! On both giffgaff and ASDA Mobile, you’ll be charged the same amount for international phone call regardless of whether you have a bundle on your account. So on giffgaff, it’s always 6p/minute to call NZ mobiles and 2p/minute to call NZ landlines. If you like, you can choose to buy a goodybag to cover your UK usage, and this won’t affect the rates you pay for calling NZ. You can find out more and order a free giffgaff SIM card here.
      Hope this helps!

  14. Dave Hawke said:

    Hi Ken Like some other correspondents I am with Sainsbury Mobile who will cease operating mid-January. I have a DoroEasy 612 phone with buttons (I don’t get on with buttonless phones – but do plenty of internet work with keyboards – e.g. laptop, so am fairly savvy). The Doro gives me basic phone calls and texting – at a decent cost – but no internet, which is fine, and I am a low user. I top up when I want to – so nothing lost at the end of each month. So you would describe my system as Traditional Pay As You Go. I see that you have a guide entitled Cheapest Networks on Traditional Pay As You Go on your website. I clicked this and couldn’t find any reference to it. Are these traditional systems now defunct? Please advise. Also any thoughts and how I can get approx.” like for like” when Sainsbury Mobile folds would be much welcomed. Regards DH

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your comment. You can see a full comparison of ‘traditional’ Pay As You Go tariffs here. It’ll show you the cost of calling and texting – also which network you get coverage from. With the tariffs mentioned on that page, there’s no regular monthly commitment. Also, your credit doesn’t expire providing you keep the SIM card active. In general, I find a large number of MbS customers have moved over to ASDA Mobile (like Sainsbury’s, ASDA also charge 8p/minute and 4p/text). There’s more information here on the best alternatives to Mobile by Sainsbury’s.
      Hope this helps,

  15. Peter said:

    Hi I was looking at your reviews and noticed that you do not have the mobile company I use. I use a company called Kontakt mobile. I use there flex £5 which gives 500Mb of data and £15 calling and text credit which last for 30 days and your £5 credit which last until it is used. 9p a min, text or mb

  16. Siew Yin said:

    Hi Ken,

    Thank you for the thorough write-up on the PAYG Bundles.

    I am going to London by February 2016 but my sister will return to Malaysia for her Christmas break this year. Since a foreigner cant order a sim card online, is it possible for my sister to order two free sim cards and deliver to me by Christmas while I will only top up the value or the pay as you go bundle by February next year?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Siew,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, your sister can indeed order the SIM cards to her UK address and then she can bring you the SIM cards during Christmas 🙂 In the UK, SIM cards aren’t registered to a person so there’s definitely no issue in doing this. With regards to using the phone in February and only topping it up then, this also won’t be an issue (the only thing I’d really watch out for is the SIM card expiring if you don’t use it for 6 months). I’d probably recommend getting a SIM card from giffgaff or ASDA Mobile.
      Hope this helps,

  17. Marcin said:

    Hi Ken!

    Is it true that giffgaff £7.50 bundle have 2G and 3G coverage only? “4G isn’t available on any bundles for less than £10/month”. According to giffgaff website I can see: “Our new goodybags are rolling monthly SIM-only deals that include 4G data as standard at no extra cost” or More info on pricing is showing: “We now offer 4G as standard. Great news. Our new great value goodybags now include 4G as standard at no extra cost”. Any advice or comments? Thanks in advance.


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Marcin,
      Thanks for the heads up about this – the £5 and £7.50 goodybags from giffgaff do now include 4G internet at no extra charge. Apologies for the error above: I accidentally left this in from an older version of the article before the goodybag changes in September 2015. Will get this amended right away.

      1. Nelgrd replied:

        Hi check the internet for comments about giffgaff speeds if data is important for you.

        I was with giffgaff for a month and 3g and 4g data speeds were 0.4 mbps or lower consistently.

        Lots of complaints about this on the net and giffgaff community.

  18. Tim Barrow said:

    With traditional pay as you go, although a phone call of a few minutes could deplete the credit balance, it would be worthwhile to buy an add on beforehand to get the extra minutes before making the call.

  19. ChjrisK said:

    Check out the Post Office PAYG bundles starting with the £5 bundle that includes 250 minutes, 3000 texts and 500 Mb of data.

  20. Hugh Doherty said:

    Hi, I use a dongle, currently from 3, to attach my computer to the net – no voice or text. Seems 3 are changing their tarriff – anyone got any suggestions for an alternative method of connecting to the net as 3 say their All-in-One 20 may stop connecting at any time without warning.
    Many thanks,

  21. michelle wright said:

    just to add that for £10 a month vectone mobile are doing unlimited mins, unlimited texts, unlimited data which is an impressive deal heres link

    its the offer 2nd from the bottom of the page its called the uk pocket saver £10

    I hope it helps the heavy users like myself save money

    if your an existing customer you dial*1001# from your handset to opt into this deal

    1. Fredy replied:

      Unfortunately they are no longer offering unlimited data it was just for attracting more customers

      1. Michelle wright replied:

        Hence my love back to giffgaff but it was good while it lasted lol

  22. Paul Kennedy said:

    Three just made a change. Their All-in-one 15 bundle just changed to all-in-one 20. 33% price hike for no change to the deal.

  23. Dot K said:

    Hi thanks for the info, and forgive me if this question has been asked before. Do know if any of the PAYG allow tethering so I can use my iPad from my iPhone. Also do you know how I can check coverage for my postcode? I am coming to UK from Australia with an unlocked iPhone. Giffgaff seems a good deal.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi there,
      On Pay As You Go, I believe you’re able to tether on EE, giffgaff, Tesco, Vodafone, ASDA and the Co-operative Mobile. For more information about coverage in the UK and for a link to the coverage checkers on each network, take a look at the article I’ve written here 🙂
      Hope this helps,

      1. Dot K replied:

        Thanks Ken. Great info

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Cheers Dot! In case it’s of interest, I’ve also just posted up a full guide to the tethering policy on UK networks.
          Hope this helps,

          1. J replied:

            You’re not supposed to tether on any of those networks. You’re ABLE to, but that is different than being allowed to. Do it enough times and they will block your data.

  24. Jeremy said:

    Hello Ken
    I just wanted to say thank you so much for this article. It is exactly what I was looking for, as my wife is in England now, while I am still in Australia, and she had no idea which sort of card to get for her iPhone. Most of the stuff on the web has either too little comprehensive information or some sort of vested interest in what you pick, whereas yours appears to be a comprehensive and very useful guide.

    Many thanks – Jeremy

    1. Jeremy replied:

      There is a complicating factor which I hadn’t considered before. In looking to get a Giffgaff card for my wife, it looks as if the only way to buy a bundle is online with a credit card, and it seems that they only accept UK credit cards. Do you know any way around this?

      1. Ken Lo
        Ken replied:

        Hi Jeremy,
        Thanks for the kind feedback on the article! As you say, I believe giffgaff will only accept a UK-issued credit card. However, some people do report being able to use an internationally-issued card.
        If you aren’t able to top up with your credit card, it’s still possible to top-up with a voucher. You can buy a voucher at most supermarkets and phone stores – see this page for more information. If you aren’t able to find a giffgaff voucher, it’s fine to also use a top-up voucher from O2.
        Hope this helps!

  25. susan said:

    Thanks for such an informative article explaining the difference between credits and allowances. I think I finally get it! I’ve just come off an online chat with an O2 reresentative, who was not able to explain it at all and confused the hell out of me. After doing some research, I’ve decided to go with Tesco mobile because they have separate bundles for data, texts and calls. As I will be using my new phone mainly for internet browsing, I was not at all interested in the bundles that included calls and texts. I can use my regular credits for the occassional texts/calls I might make. For just £5.00 Tesco offers 500MB data, which will be plenty for me to start with as I will be using WiFi most of the time. Plus, there’s no extra cost for using 4G networks! Just throughing this in the hat as an option for those who are light users like me. Thanks again for such a great article – I’ve bookmarked it!

  26. Apo said:

    Hi Ken,

    Appreciate your help.

    I’m coming to the UK for 6 weeks with 18 days of that touring the Netherlands/Germany/Switzerland/Austria/Italy/France. I am wanting to purchase a prepaid SIM in London that will allow me to make the odd call and send the odd text in the UK to UK mobiles. BUT more importantly, I want to be able to text New Zealand from the UK and the EU countries I am visiting and also access about 1 GB of p/m in the UK and all EU places I am visiting.

    I have been looking at different UK providers for a bundle and price that will do this but it is very confusing.

    Can you suggest please
    Really appreciate your help, Apo

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Apo,
      Thanks for your comment. There are two requirements listed in your comment: the ability to use your phone abroad in multiple European countries and the ability to call/text New Zealand for a fairly low price. Unfortunately, there’s no particular deal which stands out as meeting all your requirements – different networks are good for different things. I’ve written two articles which might be of interest:
      1. Comparison of the best value SIM cards for travelling in Europe. Three is best for visiting Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France… O2 is better for the Netherlands and Germany.
      2. Comparison of best value SIM cards for calling abroad. giffgaff is best at 6p/minute to NZ mobiles, 2p/minute to NZ landlines and 8p/message for texts to NZ.
      You’ll have to balance the pros and cons of each network depending on how long you plan to spend abroad, how many international phone calls you plan to make, etc.
      Hope this gives you a good starting point for your research!

      1. Apo replied:

        Thanks Ken,

        ….greatly appreciate your reply and information. This has given me something to ponder.

        Amazing though that a text to NZ costs more than 1 minute of calling. That doesn’t makes sense… but then the entire mobile phone industry doesn’t make sense when you look at charges by country, especially if it is a developing country where you get a lot more for less when compared with a First World country.

        Thanks again Ken, Apo

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Apo,
          It is indeed very bizarre! Mobile pricing in the UK is definitely far from logical… on certain networks, it’s also cheaper to call another country than it is to call within the UK.
          Add to that – another weird example… the cost of calling when you’re abroad in Europe. As soon as you use your handset outside the UK, UK networks are bound by EU legislation on the maximum amount they can charge for calling & texting. This means, for example, if you’re using your handset in France it’ll cost 18.8p/minute to call to the UK and 5.9p to send a text to the UK. Meanwhile, if you’re physically located within the UK, many networks charge a lot more e.g. 35p/minute and 14p/text.
          With regards to your comment about texts to NZ, most mobile networks have a flat rate for international texting – it’ll cost the same amount whichever country you’re texting. This probably explains why it’s often more expensive than a minute of calling – still incredibly bizarre though!

  27. Evangeline said:

    Hi Ken my husband need a phone for a day is it possible just to purchase a cheap phone and buy a bundle for the month? If so what do we need do?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Evangeline,
      Thanks for your comment. It would indeed be possible to do this – in fact, some networks will sell you an incredibly cheap handset when you also top-up by £10 at the same time. I recommend having a look at EE Pay As You Go – you can get an Alcatel 10.10 for £2.49 or a range of Nokia featurephones also from £2.49.
      Hope this helps,

  28. Gail said:

    Hi, I purchased a sim free iphone 5s online for my daughter, she put her giffgaff sim in, she has data but cant receive or make calls or txt messages, have checked she has the right settings etc but still wont work, have been online and have tried many different troubleshooting tips yet still no joy, would be very grateful if you have a suggestions to resolve this problem.

    Many thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Gail,
      Thanks for your comment. This is a rarely odd situation: normally it’s the calling and texting which will work without issue (getting data to work often requires you to do a bit of extra work such as configuring APNs). Could you kindly double-check that you’re actually using data via giffgaff (i.e. check if the data is only working because you’re connected to wi-fi). If data is indeed working on 3G via giffgaff, then I’m not really sure what is currently happening (it might be worth taking the phone to your local Apple store so they’re able to check).

  29. dani said:

    hi there! has anyone tried Vectone?? i am thinking to change my provider… any suggestion would be much appreciated!! thx!!!

  30. Vanessa said:

    Hi Ken,

    I have purchased a samsung mini GT-S5570 on eBay, it is locked to Tesco and I can’t unlock it for free with Tesco because I don’t have the mobile number.
    Is there any other way I can unlock it for free or for a small charge?


    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Vanessa,
      Have you tried ordering a free SIM card from the Tesco Mobile website? It should be possible to use that SIM card in order to unlock your handset. There’s a £20 charge to unlock your handset if you’ve had the SIM card for less than 12 months.

  31. Heleen said:

    Vectone has a monthly £3.50 deal with 100 minutes, 100 sms’s and 50 megabyte data. I haven’t seen anything beating that yet!

  32. Antony said:

    Vectone are now doing £12.00 500 mins, unlimited text and unlimited data – which is by far the best deal!

  33. Jane said:

    Hi Ken,
    Now that Asda is running on the EE network, can I use my new Asda EE sim in an orange/EE phone or can it only be used in an Asda Phone?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Jane,
      Thanks for your comment! As far as I’m aware, ASDA Mobile SIM cards will not work in an Orange/EE handset. You’ll have to contact EE to unlock your handset before switching to ASDA. There’s a form on the EE website for requesting an unlock:
      Hope this helps,

      1. adamsky replied:

        My Vodafone-locked iphone 4 accepts Sainsbury’s Mobile SIM (this MVNO runs on Vodafone’s network)

    2. dawn kay replied:

      You CAN use new asda sim with ee/orange/tmobile locked handsets – I do. I got a basic samsung last year on orange with phone fund but it also takes asda, ee,people’s operator,talkhomemobile, tmobile,virgin & white – it’s cos they all run on EE network.

  34. Dawn Kay said:

    Also good deals for £10 are:

    lycamobile national 10 500 mins unlimited sims unlimited data

    talkhome mobile (vodafone) 500 mins unlimited texts and 2gb data

    Remember with virgin and orange £10 bundles you still get the £10 credit to spend too

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